Writing an obituary for a cremation or ash spreading is similar to traditional ones with a funeral and burial service. The difference is how you word the service or ceremony. Details of your loved one’s name and life or even the surviving family members can still be included.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should You Include or Not Include in an Obituary for a Cremation?
- Steps for Writing an Obituary for a Cremation
- Example Obituaries for a Cremation
- Places to Post or Submit an Obituary for a Cremation
Keep scrolling, and we’ll take you through some of the nuances of writing for cremation or ash spreading, offer some obituary template examples, and show you where to post the obituary, too.
What Should You Include or Not Include in an Obituary for a Cremation?
Let’s look at what you should include or not include in an obituary for a cremation.
What to include
Unique or identifying information
What you can include in an obituary is anything that offers information specific to your loved one without giving details that would compromise their estate or any surviving family members. That means you can include their names or nicknames and general locations, stories about their life, and even surviving loved ones.
If your loved one was transgender or nonbinary, then use the appropriate pronouns. Even if the grammar seems off, use the pronoun they were comfortable with—don’t worry about how the sentence sounds.
What not to include
Avoid detailing personal information or combining certain information like a home address with a service time. Offering up times for an unwatched or empty home will only invite issues at the worst possible time.
And, certainly, don’t include any information that could lead to such things as financial fraud.
Questions to ask yourself
The critical thing to remember is that time often heals wounds, so don’t print or post stuff you’ll regret. Instead, consider:
- Is the information irrelevant?
- Does the info divulge any family or personal issues?
- Would your loved one want to expose or express this information?
- Does the information change the focus away from your loved one?
Steps for Writing an Obituary for a Cremation
Next, let’s take a look at the steps or elements of an obituary:
Start with their name
Use your loved one’s full name, any well-known nicknames, and their maiden name, if applicable. These are all features specific to your loved one that will help others identify them.
In the case of our trans community, be careful not to “dead name” them. That is, don’t use the name given at birth. Instead, use the name they chose.
Include the location of birth
In addition to a unique name, a person’s birth location also offers a record of a specific person’s life. They might be incredibly proud of their heritage, so include that if it seems appropriate.
Otherwise, just include their most recent town or city of residence.
Offer their date of birth
Just like the name and location of birth, your loved one’s date of birth is just as important. After all, you can tell a lot about a person simply by the years they journeyed on this planet.
If they lived past 100, for example, their age becomes an admirable milestone. Conversely, if your loved one died young, their age might, candidly, represent tough trials on their and/or your part.
Suggest a cause of death
There is no need to go into great details about someone’s cause of death unless that behooves your grieving process. Instead, a mere suggestion of a reason will suffice.
Otherwise, there’s often regret when heavy tragedies strike, and survivors feel compelled to explain intimate details to the world. If this is what you’re contemplating, instead imagine the story you’d like to read in five years. Let that determine what you write today.
Include a life summary or high points
Here’s where you get to explain the macro experiences of a person’s life. You can list their military experience, their travels, or how they loved their annual fishing trip with girlfriends. Say as much or as little as you prefer.
Offer some quotes
Many won’t find this a necessary section. For those that do, it’s because your loved one often recited a quote, or, simply, that they lived according to a creed so brilliantly that to leave it out would be like denying a part of their life.
Include surviving family members
Some people shy away from this addition in obituaries because it opens the door for unscrupulous behavior. So, use your best judgment.
Note any services or scattering times
Even though people opt for cremations, some will have viewings where loved ones can gather and say a final farewell.
There won’t be a service in other instances, but there will be a celebration of life or a scattering service. Mention it here if you’d like to extend invitations.
If the ashes are scattered at a later time, you can offer that instead.
Suggest a donation
Skipping flowers is not unusual. Many people would rather see the florist fee spent on a nonprofit or given to a fund to support others. Choose what’s best for your family.
Example Obituaries for a Cremation
Now that we’ve given you the elements that should not be included in an obituary, let’s look at how to write an obituary with some examples. Think of these as templates, then copy, cut, and paste them into your document. Just change the details to suit your loved one’s life.
Example obituary for cremation without a service
James Cooper “Coop” Mortenson (1965–2022) died during Oregon’s first summer heatwave. Near the end of his life, he lived by Shelterbelt Park in Bend, OR, with his friends and his dog, Joe.
Born in Lincoln City, Coop was the eldest of four, with three sisters. He learned mechanics from his father and spent time in northern California before settling back in Bend. He bought a home, opened a business, and lost both after the 2008 recession.
Coop’s family could not be reached, but his friends offered great praise. When speaking with those who knew Coop best, they say he will be remembered for his laughter and concern for others and for the way he brightened the worst of days. What eventually led Coop to homelessness is unknown, but it wasn’t drugs or addiction.
The Mortenson family will be paying for his cremation, but no service is scheduled.
Example obituary for a cremation with a private service
Elizabeth Anne “Doc” Guiney, DVM, of Kennewick, WA, died suddenly on June 18, 2021.
Born the youngest of four to George and Gennie Guiney, Elizabeth and elder siblings Carmen, Sam, and Ronna, grew up raising cattle and Quarter Horses on a small ranch outside of town.
On a full scholarship, Elizabeth traveled to Spain, where they received their degree in Veterinary Science. Shortly after that, they returned to our small town and set up a practice for the next twenty years. Our community is at a significant loss without this brilliant, compassionate human being. Many will miss their warmth and genuine love for the animals in our small town.
Elizabeth is survived by their parents, siblings, and many nieces and nephews. Elizabeth requested their ashes to be scattered at the ranch in a private service in the event of their death.
Instead of flowers, the family requests that you please donate to our local humane society.
Example obituary for an ash spreading ceremony
The family of Felicia Thornton, who passed away during the COVID-19 shutdown, sends a warm and welcome invitation to all friends and family. On Thursday, March 16th, at noon, please join us at Heceta Beach to say goodbye as we spread her ashes on her favorite beach.
Afterward, we’ll be lunching at the Driftwood Inn, so please remember your face coverings. Please wear warm, waterproof clothing and bring a story to tell.
Example obituary for a cremation with a public service
Mr. Earl “Jay” Pease of Escanaba, MI, passed away on Monday, November 15, 2021, at 76.
Jay was born to parents Earl and Frances Pease on February 14, 1942, in Spring Valley, WI. He grew up the youngest of three and attended Spring Valley High School. In 1960, Jay was drafted into the military and spent the next 20 years in service. Jay married Sylvia Iverson in 1972, and the couple had two children.
After he retired from the military, Jay and Sylvia moved to Sanibel Island, Florida, and opened a café. Jay started several nonprofits and volunteered at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to support wildlife habitats and restoration.
Jay is survived by his daughter, Katherine (Robert) Redmond; his brothers, Pete (with wife Jenny) and Alan (with wife Barbara); and two grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Sylvia; a son, John; and his parents, Earl and Frances.
A viewing of the body will be available to the public at Mayer Funeral Home on November 21 between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. All are welcome. An additional scattering ceremony for Jay’s ashes will occur on New Year’s Day at Mineral Springs Park. Friends and family are invited. The family requests that you donate to Chapel Hill Church in place of flowers.
Places to Post or Submit an Obituary for a Cremation
The following sites for posting or submitting an obituary are nuanced. Read through them and then decide which one works best for your situation.Newspaper
Indeed, newspapers are the most traditional and timeless location to post an obituary. After all, we’ve been posting loving and admirable tributes in them since Roman times.
But as much as they might seem out of touch in some circles, the newspaper is highly effective at disseminating information quickly for others.
Of all newspapers, small-town publications tend to be the most affordable, which means you can tell a long story and post a picture for a reasonable fee. However, larger cities are going to limit your tribute if cost is a consideration.
Online memorial website
There are two ways to access online memorial sites. One is through the newspaper obituary. These days, many publications that serve traditional and online subscription services automatically link the obituary to an online service.
Another way is to search for and locate one on your own. Before you do, note that there will be a fee structure. That means you can expect to pay anywhere from a nominal one-time fee to a larger one-time fee for permanent posting.
Whether you pin, tweet, or post, social media offers yet another way to gather a community after the death of a loved one.
- Facebook allows you to pin a post to the top of your own social media page to avoid getting lost in the feed.
- Instagram allows you to post a picture, but over time, that photo will archive itself deeper in your feed as you continue to post.
- Twitter will let you tweet a few words in their honor. However, this platform may not be ideal given the overall constraint on words.
If you’re savvy, there are ways to build a website and dedicate it to your loved one for free. Many website builders even offer automated building tools, so there’s no design or guesswork on your part. All you have to do is populate it with stories, pictures, and then share them with family and friends.
Obituary Templates for Cremation and Ash Spreading
Use the templates we created above to suit the needs and circumstances of your family and situation. Be as traditional, expressive, or vague as you feel is most appropriate. Remember, no single obituary is better than the other. Each person and their story is unique.